15 Favourite Free Things to Do near Washington, DC

Discover a new meaning for freedom in the Capital Region, where many noteworthy attractions offer free admission. 

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Arlington National Cemetery
Wild horses on Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland
Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland
Smithsonian, Zoo, National Zoo, Washington DC, DC, attractions
The Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums and the National Zoo all offer free admission
National Harbor, movie, Movies on Potomac, events, free activities, free, family, view, DC, Maryland, Capital Wheel, ferris wheel
Movies on the Potomac at National Harbor, Maryland
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Wild horses on Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland
Smithsonian, Zoo, National Zoo, Washington DC, DC, attractions
National Harbor, movie, Movies on Potomac, events, free activities, free, family, view, DC, Maryland, Capital Wheel, ferris wheel
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Looking for economical entertainment? You've found it! Check out these top free and nearly free activities in the Capital Region.

1. Monuments & Memorials

Washington, DC

All of DC’s monuments and memorials are free, including the Lincoln, Jefferson and World War II memorials and the Washington Monument.

2. Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington National Cemetery is the highly regarded location of sites such as the Challenger Space Shuttle Memorial, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and President John F. Kennedy’s grave.  

3. Assateague Island National Seashore

Berlin, Maryland

Arrive on foot, bicycle or on a fee-free day to gain free entry to the protected sandy beaches and marshland of Assateague Island National Seashore, a magical barrier island off the coast. 

4. Smithsonian Museums

Washington, DC and Virginia

Home to some of the world’s greatest collections, the Smithsonian Institution’s 17 museums and the National Zoo all offer free admission. 

5. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Richmond, Virginia 

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the state's top art museum and houses a permanent collection of more than 33,000 works spanning 5,000 years of history. 

6. Spruce Forest Artisan Village

Grantsville, Maryland

At Spruce Forest Artisan Village, you can interact with metal sculptors, weavers, potters and other artists inside the historic log cabins that serve as their studios and learn about the area’s agricultural foundations at the restored Stanton’s Mill. 

7. National Arboretum

Washington, DC 

Located 2 miles from the US Capitol Building, the National Arboretum is a stunning 446-acre living museum that features gardens, a bonsai museum and the original columns from the Capitol Building. 

8. Movies on the Potomac

National Harbor, Maryland

Gather your crew and head to Movies on the Potomac to watch family favourites like “The Wizard of Oz” and “How to Train Your Dragon” on National Harbor’s Plaza screen every Sunday evening, May through September. 

9. Chrysler Museum of Art Perry Glass Studio

Norfolk, Virginia

Free glass-blowing demonstrations are offered daily at Chrysler's Perry Glass Studio, a state-of-the-art facility where you'll also find tours, classes and events with music, drinks and performance art. 

10. DC By Foot Walking Tours

Washington, DC

With DC by Foot Walking Tours, get the lay of the land and learn about the city’s history during daily excursions centring on the National Mall, historic Georgetown and U Street, among others. 

11. Salisbury Zoo

Salisbury, Maryland

From bobcats and ocelots to tropical birds and alligators, numerous species native to North, Central and South America call the 12-acre Salisbury Zoo home. 

12. The Community Arboretum at Virginia Western

Roanoke, Virginia

Located on a college campus, The Community Arboretum at Virginia Western is a two-acre educational garden divided into 11 unique collections of flowers and plants and surrounding a central amphitheatre. 

13. A Day at the Beach

Virginia Beach, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland

Grab your sunscreen and head to the shore, where blue waters and soft sand await along the Atlantic coastline at numerous beaches that are free and open to the public

14. The Reach

The Reach, a new expansion at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, features three soaring pavilions and 10 interior spaces offering visitors a unique way to experience art. Washington, DC

15. US Naval Academy Museum

Annapolis, Maryland

Within the institution's Preble Hall, peruse the US Naval Academy Museum's two floors of exhibits detailing the history of sea power and the development of the country’s navy. 

Explore even more top free attractions in the Washington, DC area!

Related: 
Outdoors & Nature
City Adventures
History & Culture
Attractions & Family Fun

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